Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Single Parent...I Can't Imagine

Single Parent Adoption
Photo coutresy of pregnancycaretips.com

When I found out I would be a daddy, I can honestly say I underestimated the amount of effort it would take to take care of my baby girl.  Even with the parenting classes, videos, articles, and constant barrage of parenting advice during my wife’s pregnancy, I didn’t realize how my life would change.  That being said, the stresses my wife and I have faced certainly can’t compare with that of a single parent.  So I’d like to count my blessings, and salute the single parents that work hard every day to raise their child.
I can’t imagine…
     1.  …the long, long nights – It didn’t take long before I started thinking about the single parent’s that must wake for every late night crying, hungry, and needy child.  The first couple weeks on our own, my wife and I were able to rotate baby-duty in the middle of the night.   While my wife took a fair amount of the time for nursing, I would alternate when we had to do formula for a while and when we started to bottle extra milk.   And now, even though our daughter usually sleeps through the night, there’s still a couple times a week we must wake up to a screaming child or for early morning feedings.  It is truly a blessing to be able to alternate the feedings, and I have to salute the parents that must wake up every night for their children.  The strength and patience it must take to do this on your own is truly inspiring.
2.       …how the errands get done – Sunday afternoons are our grocery day, and Saturday’s are usually for the rest of the errands.  What a blessing it is to be able to have me or my wife stay home while the other can go run the errands.  One of our first errand runs with a new child is when I realized how difficult it must be for a single parent.  Our little girl was fussy, and one of us was able to pay attention to her and settle her down and the other was able to go about the business of gathering the groceries we needed.  And I can’t help but think about the parent that must multi-task to complete the errands.   And I can’t imagine how much more exponentially difficult it would be with toddlers or with multiple children.  So I have to salute the errand-running single parents, and the planning that must go into the daily trips.
3.       …what it takes to go on a trip – And what about the longer trips?  Whether visiting family or friends, or going on a vacation, I can’t imagine how single parents deal with the hassles of a long trip.  I would imagine one must make frequent stops to change diapers, for bathroom breaks, feedings, and so much more.  My wife and I are appreciative of the fact that one of us could ride in the back of the car with our daughter if she just needed attention and to help with any needed stops.  We haven’t had to plan ahead a great deal for our trips because we know that if she gets fussy, one of us will be able to help.  Again, I must salute the patience and focus it takes for a single parent to go on trips with their child.
4.       …the restrictions on “tag-teaming” – My wife and I frequently employ the “tag-team” approach when our daughter just can’t seem to get settled.  Whether it’s a middle-of-the-night screeching cry that can’t be appeased, a restless daughter that just won’t go to sleep, or a constant craving for attention, we are blessed with the ability to switch off when it becomes too much.  At only 5 months, and still unable to crawl, I know that we haven’t even scratched the surface of our tag-team efforts.  When our daughter is older and the needs grow, cries get louder, and tantrums begin, we will certainly turn to the tag team more often.   I have worked with several single parents, and my appreciation of their efforts increases with each passing day.  They don’t necessarily have the ability to temporarily switch off responsibilities.  The strength it would take is simply admirable.
5.       …the satisfaction of a job well done. –   Finally, I can’t imagine the satisfaction a single parent feels when they see their child succeed.  Don’t get me wrong, my wife and I will be elated with each new milestone and accomplishment of our daughter (and any future children), but I think a single parent feels a special kind of joy that will exceed ours in many cases.  I’ve met several of my co-worker’s children in the past, and I feel most have done an excellent job in raising their children.   And the pride and joy is audible when they talk about their children, whether it’s first steps, a great game, or doing well in school.   I cannot speak from experience, but I CAN imagine that the satisfaction of a single parent runs deep and is well deserved.
 The fact is, parenting is tough.  It doesn’t take long for any parent to figure that out.  But I have to give more credit to the single parents that face the struggles on their own.  To my co-workers, both past and present, this article is for you:
For not giving up when your patience is running thin,
For enduring the sleepless nights, again and again,
For the sacrifices made so your child can succeed,
For being the mom or dad that your child needs.

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